Does Reading Capital Make One A Marxist?

Here’s a rather interesting question for this Super Bowl Sunday.  Does reading Karl Marx’s Capital make one a Marxist?  It definitely makes you wonder when you talk to friends about what you’re currently reading, and when colleagues and others see what you’re reading.  I also get the curious comments on Facebook about it.  Add to the fact that you don’t see very many people reading it for pleasure, and you’re bound to get some curious glances your way.

I, of course, don’t think if you’re reading such a seminal work as Capital doesn’t make you a Marxist by any stretch of the imagination.  Is it an easy read, heck no.  Is it about communism, I don’t think so either, at least here in the very early going.  So far I am taking it at its face value, a critique of capitalist political economy.

For me, it’s plain and simple, I’m reading the book to be challenged.  To stretch my thinking and open myself up to new ideas that I may not have considered before.  That’s right, I said it, I want to think.  As Marx so succinctly put it in his preface to the first edition of Capital in July 1857:

I assume, of course, a reader who is willing to learn something new and therefore think for himself.

He wrote that concerning the difficulty of reading Capital.  I’m still currently in the first chapter of Capital which deals with The Commodity.  It’s not an easy chapter by any stretch of the imagination, but it has gotten me to thinking in more basic terms of what a commodity is and expanding that definition.  That’s what I’m looking for with tackling this work.

However, with that being said, it’s good to read something outside of the box of my ordinary reading.  It keeps things interesting and exciting.  That’s why I can handle the rather interesting looks, and the perception of reading such a work.  And another added benefit….  Since it’s such a voluminous work, it keeps me from spending more money on books!  My wife definitely sees that as a positive upside!

In summary, I’m essentially stretching the bounds of my reading experience.  Do you ever stretch your bounds or step out of the norm with books?  Please let me know.  I’d also love to know if you sometimes get strange comments and/or glances about what you may be reading.  Hope everyone enjoys the Super Bowl today!


About Jeremy

Husband, book lover, Civil War Buff. If I could read for a living I would, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills!

8 Responses to “Does Reading Capital Make One A Marxist?”

  1. Congratulations! I haven’t read this book yet, though like you, I do hope to some day. But yes — I’ve done the same thing, having read books that stretch my own opinions and beliefs. It feels almost, I don’t know, incestuous when one only reads things that will reinforce one’s own opinions or keep one at the same level of understanding something. There’s just no learning there at all.

    I was reading some rather strenuous philosophy books a year or so ago, for that reason. I should get back to them. 🙂

    • You’re right, it does seen incestuous, but we’re creatures of habit and tend to read/follow those things that reinforce our beliefs. Stepping out of the box is always good to do sometimes. 🙂 I sure hope you get around to reading Capital. It’s definitely been a fun challenge so far. I would also definitely love to discuss the book with others too!

  2. When I heard you were reading this initially, I was wondering when you were going to address whether you were a Marxist. I like how you did it: head-on. Personally, I don’t have an interest in reading Marx, but I’m interested in hearing what you get out of the books by him that you do read, because like you, I like to stretch myself in terms or reading and thinking. I’ll continue to follow your journey here.

    • Thanks! I was debating whether to address it at all, but I figured why not? My sister just yesterday was asking me the question: “Who are you and what did you do with my brother?” She asked this question because she knew the me of a few years ago wouldn’t read Marx.

      I definitely plan on posting frequently about my thoughts about the reading, and I know I’ll definitely have many questions which I’ll post as well! It’s definitely not disappointing me with stretching my thinking, so in that sense, it’s going to be a fun and interesting journey! Thanks again for coming by!


  1. My More Difficult Reads – To Date « Beltwayliterature - February 20, 2011

    […] difficult books?  I know I’ve addressed it a little bit in two different posts in January, Does Reading Marx Make One A Marxist?, and My Marx Reading Project – Why? Which, if you haven’t taken a look at, please […]

  2. Feburary 2011 In Review | Beltwayliterature - February 28, 2011

    […] Does Reading Capital Make One A Marxist? […]

  3. Books & The Perceptions They Bring – Does It Concern You? | Beltwayliterature - March 6, 2011

    […] is reality.  Now, I know I’ve talked about perceptions before, especially in my post, “Does Reading Marx Make One A Capitalist,” but I especially got around to thinking about it when I wrote in one of my previous posts, […]

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    […] a blogger whose blog I regularly read who is making his way through Capital by Karl Marx. “Does reading Capital make one a Marxist?,” Jeremy asked himself and his readers in one recent post. Image via […]

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